I almost hate to say it, but I’ve never been that big of a KEF fan. It’s not that I hate on the brand, or hate on the sound, or had my kitty kicked, or any of that. If I have to confess, my “issue” with KEF has always been an imaging thing — specifically, I’ve just never heard a KEF that could image its way out of a paper bag.
Look, I’ll freely admit that this is my problem. KEF loudspeakers are interesting, storied, and well received. So, fine, it’s just me. But the demos I’ve heard of the their current top-of-the-line (-ish) Blade have been something of an interesting exercise in frustration and disappointment. Again, it’s probably fair to blame the show conditions I’ve heard them in. And the fact that it’s been half-a-dozen shows, and that it’s always the same story, is, I’m sure, purely a coincidence.
So, the first clue that I was, in fact, clueless, was actually not KEF — but a KEF driver in a Soundfield Audio Monitor-1. I heard these guys at AXPONA and was blown away — amazing sound for the money. And … it started me wondering about KEF. Maybe … maybe I was wrong?
Enter the KEF LS50.
Okay, long story short. The LS50 is an amazing loudspeaker. It sounds way bigger than it is, and the imaging? Spotless. $1,500 is not pocket change (assuming you’re not Mitt Romney), but it occurs to me that this may be a really good way to spend it. Got a small space? An apartment? A hotel room? And … want to fill it with great sound? Well, I can think of only a couple of ways to get this level of sound, but from a major brand? Not so much.
What I heard in this room was delicate, refined, raucous, dynamic and altogether wildly entertaining. Best I’ve heard from KEF and among the best I’ve heard at RMAF. Lovin’ this little guy.
Parasound electronics drove the room, including a ZDAC ($450), CD1 used as a transport ($5,000), P7 preamp ($2k), A21 amplifier ($2,300).